mother! Written and directed by Darren Aronofsky, was at first a very atmospheric, very tense feeling film, that then went on to become this very empty, repetitive feeling film, and then it transitioned into something surreal, and then from there it became overly farcical, and then by the end there was something truly profound about it. It was a journey that was ever changing; sometimes it was good and other times it wasn’t, but there was always something to it that, in some way, kept me watching it. The experience of watching this film was like it was slicing its way slowly but deeply into me and then staying there, waiting; in the end exploding into something I couldn’t stop myself from thinking about. This is going to be a challenging review but one I’m interested to write, so let’s get to it.
My plot synopsis will be short and vague, because the less I say the better. A seemingly happy couple’s lives are disrupted when uninvited guests show up to their home and settle in for what seems like longer then one of them is happy with. From there, odd, disturbing events begin to fill the house.
What grabbed me about this film at first was the undeniable atmosphere that it had. The sound design would pierce your ears – gnaw at them. It would dominate every scene and it was impossible not to notice. It created this very uneasy feeling within the film; like there was something wrong or that there was something bad – evil in the house and it was reaching out. It had me very tense in the beginning. And the film doesn’t let you escape its atmosphere. It instead has a claustrophobic focus on it and its main character who was simply known as Mother – played by Jennifer Lawrence. We the audience have nowhere to go; nowhere to hide, we are at all times connected to Mother and we are dragged along on something that it difficult to comprehend, and sometimes watch.
Those were some of the feelings I had in the beginning. That’s how I saw the film and how I took it in. But then there was this shift. The film entered into a state that felt empty; it felt repetitive. Here was the first time the film began to lose me and my interest. There felt like there was a hollowing out of the film; like it wasn’t developing anything… anyone, it was simply existing and not growing. It also didn’t help that Jennifer Lawrence’s performance was one that resembled stone. It seemed like a struggle for her to produce an emotional response to anything. She would just look upon everything with the same coldness. I felt the film was beginning to lose me and that continued when the film shifted again.
It became a surreal feeling experience where reality was being ignored and things were happening but simply didn’t make sense. You are also given no time to understand them, the film moves on and almost acts as if it was nothing. I was confused… I was trying to figure out in my head if what I was watching was something I liked. I could never properly decipher how I felt about the film (in the beginning).
This is where I think most audience members might shut off from the film. The lack of anything clear or well-developed, creates this feeling of disconnect. You’re trying to accept the film but it isn’t allowing you too. It just keeps moving in its direction and never offering you an olive branch. So as to be clear, the film never gives itself over to the audience but what it did do was shift again, and this time it was to a place that is where it might either win you back or completely lose you – never to get you back.
The film transcended into the farcical. Events explode and everything is literally ramped up to eleven. I sat there, eyes as wide as they could be, purely in awe of what this film had now become. At first, I couldn’t comprehend what was happening but I knew that I liked it (or at least, I’m pretty sure I did). What I do know however, was that I was completely transfixed by it, as now I knew what I had been unintentionally doing all along, when watching the film, and what I needed to continue to do…
mother! Well it’s like a puzzle but without the box with the picture on the front. You have to try to slowly piece it together over the course of the film and begin to try to understand what it is, it’s trying to show you; what it’s meaning is. At first, it’s not fun to do the puzzle; it’s hard and it’s very unclear what it is. But the puzzle insists itself upon you and if you’re like me, you can’t help but continue to want to see it complete. And like any puzzle, it wasn’t until the end, when it all came together that I felt I truly understood it and I was left thinking about nothing else but it… the film.
I thought back over the film; all the odd moments that didn’t make sense; all of the subtle things that characters said, and I began to construct the film in my head as it was supposed to be (or at least how I thought it was supposed to be). I found the pieces of the puzzle that I had put in the wrong place and I put them where they were supposed to be. The film made sense to me – or… at least my interpretation of the film made sense to me. It was at that point that I knew I was one of the people who liked this film, I felt in some way that I understood it.
But I also understand why people hate this film. It can be much to take in and many (understandably) will either feel confused by it or insulted at what it does – what it says. There are no clear answers, and with a film like this, that can be VERY frustrating. It can feel like you’ve wasted your time or not been given what you thought you were owed. I accept people’s dislike for this film, but I, in the end, enjoyed what it was.
It took me on a challenging journey and with almost every scene I had a different opinion of the film. But whether I didn’t like what I was seeing and was baffled by its direction, or I was totally on board with its madness and trying to figure out what it was trying to say, there was one constant: I kept wanting to watch it. I was never bored; I never slumped down in my chair and hoped for the film to be over. I sat there bewildered but engaged and all I wanted to do was see what was to come next. And I’m glad I did.
So, I’m going to recommend mother! I think it is a film worth seeing, mainly because of how polarizing it is. A film that creates the reactions like this one does; a film that can divide people so much, is a film worth being a part of and deciding what side you come down on. For me it was a difficult journey – one that saw me at times immersed by it and other times hating it. But in the end, I enjoyed what I experienced and now all I want to do is go and try to decipher more of this film in my head.
I would absolutely love to know what you thought of this film, so please leave any opinions about it down in the comments section and also some feedback on what you thought of my review. If you wouldn’t mind, I’d appreciate it if you followed both my blog and my Twitter – @GavinsRamblings – as it will help to grow them both. I’ll finish up now by thanking you and wishing you a wonderful day.